Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fall gardening time

I was really pleased with my spring garden, and thanks to that success I am doing one for the fall. Besides my son will love me for all the yummy sandwich veggies and so will the hens. The chickens always get the trimmings, weeds and the final-cleanup.  Final clean-up involves letting them in to eat what's left after we the plants are finished with their yield. Right now the hens are locked out of the garden area. They would love nothing better than to sneak in and eat all the freshly planted seeds. There always is that occasional hen that does sneak in looking for tasty bugs and things she's not supposed to eat. When I do catch her she is ousted faster than she can say cluck, cluck, CLUCK.

I am pleased to say that one of the benefits of living in Texas is the extra-long growing season. The Lone Star State actually has two growing seasons, spring and fall. The extreme heat of summer permits most gardeners to take a break during the hottest months and plant their second vegetable garden in September. So fellow Texans and others living in similar climates make sure and take advantage of the warm weather and learn how to grow a fall vegetable garden.

I always plant in raised bed gardens. Raised bed gardens are the saviors of gardeners with poor soil everywhere. I don't know about you but my soil is as hard as a rock and loaded with clay. The basic idea of a raised bed is that instead of battling against poor soil conditions, you build above ground, where you have absolute control over the soil texture and ingredients.  After I build the frame out of four even lengths of untreated boards nailed together I carefully place layers of newspaper, mulch, compost, hay, and soil like I am making lasagna. The final layer is nice fine soil in which to plant my seeds. The drainage is also excellent in raised beds.

Next it's time to choose what vegetables you wish to grow. Consult a local planting guide, such as the Old Farmers Almanac, and look for the cooperative extension services link or google the internet with specific keywords such as planting a vegetable garden in the fall or the month you are planting.

Next I supplement the existing soil with compost, soil and other goodies that I have been aging such as coffee grounds, compost and chicken poop. Some soils can be quite poor and supplementing with organic soil from the local gardening center will help overcome deficiencies. Prepare the seedbed so that the top surface is raked free of clods, stones and debris. Next plant your carefully selected fall vegetable seeds such as peas, beets, radishes, chard, collards, cauliflower and brocolli. Keep soil moist with frequent watering during germination by using a fine spray nozzle to moisten the soil until water begins to run off. Sprinkle at least daily unless it happens to rain. I also use plenty of organic mulch to keep weeds down, conserve moisture and reduce soil temperature. My choice is hay that I purchase from my neighbor who bales his own. Good luck with your fall garden it is well worth the work.

No comments:

Post a Comment